Sydney 500 V8s: Van Gisbergen charges to Sunday victory

Shane van Gisbergen rounded out the 2015 V8 Supercars season with victory on the streets of Homebush.

Sydney 500 V8s: Van Gisbergen charges to Sunday victory
Shane van Gisbergen, Tekno Autosports Holden
Shane van Gisbergen, Tekno Autosports Holden
Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
Mark Winterbottom, Prodrive Racing Australia Ford
Mark Winterbottom, Prodrive Racing Australia Ford
James Courtney, Holden Racing Team
James Courtney, Holden Racing Team
Scott McLaughlin, Garry Rogers Motorsport Volvo

The Tekno driver wasted little time at the beginning of the race, forcefully passing leader James Courtney at Turn 9 on Lap 4. It was by no means a clean pass, the #97 Commodore clattering into the side of Courtney’s car on its way through.

From there, van Gisbergen’s fight was with Jamie Whincup. The two team-mates-to-be ran nose-to-tail for the majority of the second stint, having made their first stops on the same lap due to a Safety Car sparked by Tim Slade hitting the wall on Lap 11.

Whincup’s challenge realistically ended, however, when he ran down the escape road at Turn 7 on Lap 35. Any chance he would be able to jump van Gisbergen during the second round of stops disappeared at that moment, setting ‘The Giz’ up for victory.

There was one late scare, a Safety Car re-start with four laps remaining giving Whincup one last crack. But van Gisbergen was up to the task.

“It’s an awesome way to finish,” said the Kiwi. “Great weekend, and it’s been a really awesome three years [at Tekno]. It was a shame with James at the start there, but I had a run and he moved under brakes. I just couldn’t pull it up when he changed.

“But awesome, great race.”

Whincup went on to finish second, ahead of Rick Kelly who put in an impressive drive to take third. He did have to hold off a hard-charging Mark Winterbottom at the end, a task made harder with that late Safety Car, was able to do enough to take that final podium spot.

Courtney’s rollercoaster

For Courtney, the first quarter of the race was a real rollercoaster ride. After leading for the first three-and-a-half laps, that contact with van Gisbergen looked to have ruined his race. He was back to P5 by Lap 6, leading to the team bringing him in early for his first stop.

But just when it looked like luck wasn’t on his side, the Slade crash happened. Suddenly, having already completed a stop, Courtney found himself filtering back up the order. He settled into fifth as everything shook out, restoring hope of getting something out of the race.

Then, he was forced back into the lane on Lap 31 as the broken rear bodywork started to eat into his right-rear tyre. That forced him into a three-stop strategy, ruining any chance of a good result and leaving him 12th at the finish.

Typical of a 250-kilometre race on gruelling street circuit, that wasn’t the only hard-luck story. Aside from Slade’s heavy impact – caused by a stuck throttle – Scott McLaughlin also had an unlucky end to the race. The Volvo star had been running fourth up until Lap 54, before being forced into the garage with a problem.

He did get back out again, but was five laps behind the leaders.

Triple Eight takes the title

With Whincup’s second place, and Craig Lowndes coming home sixth, Triple Eight managed to overrun Prodrive and win the team’s championship.

The Prodrive team’s cause wasn’t helped by a shocker of a day for Steve Owen, who started his race by tangling with Alex Davison on Lap 2. He then spent the rest of the day in and out of the pits dealing with electrical issues, before his race came to an end on Lap 68 with suspension damage.

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Sydney 500 V8s: Courtney storms to final pole of 2015
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